COVID-19 cases rising at ‘fastest rate’ the state has seen, experts say

 Photo courtesy of ISO.FORM LLC | CC-BY-4.0

By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

Earlier this week the state posted a nearly record breaking daily number of COVID-19 cases and experts are now warning that the state is seeing caseloads skyrocket at a higher rate than at any other time during the pandemic. 

“This is the fastest rate of rise we have seen,” said Dr. Joshua LaBaer, executive director of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute. “Things are going up very quickly.”

On Monday, the number of daily reported COVID-19 cases soared to more than 14,000, the second-most since the pandemic began, surpassed only by the 17,000 reported exactly one year ago.

Daily reported cases have continued to rise, with a 158% increase in the daily average of cases per day reported in Arizona from Dec. 26, 2021 to Jan. 4, 2022. Currently, Arizona is averaging approximately 6,735 new COVID-19 cases per day. 

“We’re just beginning to see the rise in Arizona as compared to the rest of the country,” LaBaer said to reporters Wednesday about the surge.

Other areas of the country have already been experiencing sharp rises in cases related to the highly infectious omicron variant, with hospitals in cities like Phildelphia canceling procedures and tightening visitor procedures. Like Arizona, western states like Utah have also begun to see similar surges in their numbers after the holidays.

LaBaer also told reporters that Arizona may want to look to other countries to try to understand what to do and not to do when attempting to stop the spread of the virus. The United Kingdom has been grappling with the omicron variant and early data there has suggested that those who get booster shots have a 70-to-75% protection against symptomatic infection from the omicron variant. 

A new report released by the Arizona Department of Health Services supports that assumption, as well. The report shows that unvaccinated individuals had 4.9 times higher risk of infection and were 31.1 times more likely to die from COVID in November. A similar report by AzDHS in October found that unvaccinated individuals were 15.2 times more likely to die from COVID-19.

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